tv Dateline MSNBC November 26, 2020 9:00pm-11:00pm PST
>> we all do. >> reporter: as for doug stewart, the gamer, his decision to finally confess and give it up, changes nothing in his sentence. he, and his new xbox, will be in prison for the remainder of his life. we were definitely really close. people kept asking where my mom was, and i couldn't give an answer. it just seemed wrong. that was the real kind of stake in the heart. >> reporter: it was one of the most baffling cases investigators had ever seen. >> this tops the charts for most bizarre. >> no one can believe that this actually happened. >> reporter: a single mom and whip-smart computer whiz who seemed to disappear. >> i started getting text messages saying she had quit her job. >> she had something down in kansas. >> reporter: left behind?
a puzzling computer trail -- >> emails and text messages, so active on social media, but nobody can locate her. >> she didn't want to be found? >> exactly >> reporter: a mom turned ghost, was she missing, or hiding? >> i wanted to know! >> reporter: taunts. threats. violence. >> my pant leg is soaked with blood. oh jesus! >> reporter: a deadly mystery that would link three moms, and one man! >> you were the last one to see her. >> yes. it was as if i had already done something, and he already knew it. he was drilling me with them policeman eyes. >> this was almost an obsession, to get this solved. >> reporter: a heart-stopping case of jealousy, secret identity, and murder. >> it's like, you're on edge as to what's going to happen next!
>> reporter: it was dark when they started searching -- dark and cold. the fifth of december, 2015. just across the night-black missouri from omaha, back and forth went the chopper, as squad cars prowled the park -- big lake park, iowa -- looking for a shooter. [ moaning ] >> 911. what's the address of your emergency? >> i've been shot in the leg. >> reporter: looking for whoever shot her, the woman who'd come out here alone to clear her mind, get that nemesis out of her head, and instead was bleeding through a hole shot clean through her thigh. [ crying ] [ heavy breathing ] >> is there any serious bleeding? >> um, my -- my pant leg is soaked with blood. [ crying ] oh, jesus. >> reporter: oh, she knew who did it, she said, as they patched up her wounded leg. she knew all too well how deadly that crazy woman could be. >> so she gets to shoot somebody, and then she gets to kill another person.
and then she gets to move in with dave, and she gets to be free. and you guys aren't arresting her. >> reporter: she. who was she, that furious woman scorned? and what horrors was she capable of to eliminate her rivals? to win -- or punish -- the one man she so desperately wanted, the man who didn't want her? it began, as these things often do, on an innocent and ordinary day in omaha, nebraska, three years earlier. the fall of 2012. >> i'm workin', i'm behind the counter, i'm doin' ten things. >> reporter: it happened in an auto repair shop, to a mechanic named dave kroupa. >> she walks in, i see her, we meet eyes. and just for a moment i kinda stop. and i go, "well, hello." >> reporter: he was working. she wanted her s.u.v. repaired. >> and, you know, in the back of my mind i'm thinkin', "wow, she's gorgeous."
but i'm at work representin' the company i work for. that's off the table. it's not a possibility. >> reporter: but did you detect a little, sort of, signal comin' back your way -- >> i thought i did. >> reporter: and then a few weeks later, it seemed like fate. dave went on a dating website, and there she was -- her profile. her picture. her name -- cari. he started typing. >> i just said, "hey, i know you. haha." and -- she replied same thing. >> reporter: and then, before long, cari came into his shop again. >> without sayin' anything, there's kinda some sparks flyin'. we're lookin' at each other like we're both tryin' -- wantin' to say somethin'. and -- and we did. and we exchanged phone numbers. >> reporter: they had dinner. the food didn't matter. >> and we were very -- [ sighing ] i would say, enthralled with each other. >> reporter: he invited cari back to his place, and she agreed. and that's when something else
happened. didn't seem so important -- not then. not like it would later. just as they walked into the apartment, the doorbell rang. it was dave's ex-girlfriend liz, here to pick up some things she'd left behind in his apartment. awkward, but cari just laughed. bowed out. >> she said, "ah, i -- i get it. it's not a big deal. i -- i'm gonna go home. you call me when you're done dealin' with this mess." >> reporter: so dave escorted cari to the door. >> and her and liz passed each other at that moment. there were no words spoken. >> reporter: did it start then, at that moment? later, once liz left his apartment, dave called cari. >> and she invited me out to her place. which was, like, an hour drive outside of town. cari, when i got to her place -- we're there 20 minutes makin' coffee, b.s.-in'. and of course pretty soon we're on the couch. and -- and we're gettin' a little closer. now, at this point, we haven't even kissed.
and she turns to me, and she said, "look, if we're gonna have sex, that's all it is. period. there's nothin' more to it." >> reporter: huh. >> and asked me, "are you good with that? is that gonna be a problem?" and of course my eyes lit up. and i'm like, "bing, i hit the powerball." >> reporter: because dave felt exactly the same way. >> as a man i want companionship. so i'm always lookin' for a girlfriend. but never a committed relationship. >> reporter: and you let them know that this is the way it's gotta be. >> that was the first conversation. yeah. take it or leave it, that's how it is. >> reporter: but with cari, he didn't have to bring it up. >> it was all her and -- and we hit it off right from there. >> reporter: cari told him she was a computer programmer. her office was close to his apartment. they met there often. made love. talked. >> she was extremely intelligent. she was much smarter than i am, just in general.
she just -- she had a brain on her. >> reporter: different than the women you had dated before? >> the majority of 'em, yeah. yeah, she -- well, for instance, what she did for a living -- programming. i considered myself a little bit of a computer nerd. but compared to her i didn't even know what a computer was. >> reporter: dave reconsidered his "no commitment" rule. a rule he'd broken before with a woman named amy flora. they had two kids together. but it didn't last. >> after 12 years, you would think there would be some kind of a proposal or something. but like i said, he's kind of -- [ laughter ] emotionless. so -- >> reporter: he really didn't wanna get married? >> no. and i wanted to eventually be married, you know. i mean, every girl does. >> reporter: well, i mean -- >> everybody wants their fairytale wedding. >> reporter: amy and dave stayed friendly for the sake of their kids. and amy knew about dave's other women. heard about cari. >> reporter: you expected you would meet her at some point if -- if it continued? >> well, if it continued, yeah, i would've liked to have met
her. >> reporter: but amy didn't meet cari. not then. no idea what was coming. early that november of 2012, cari told dave she had a big project at work. she'd stay over at his place instead of driving home to the country every night. and so they began their work week together. and then, on tuesday november 13th -- >> i gave her a kiss on the way out the door. you know? like, "hi, see you later, honey." that kinda thing. you know, it was almost like a -- that sorta '50s tv show garbage. you know -- >> reporter: that doesn't sound like a guy who's got no attachments -- >> well, i didn't say "honey." but that's the way it came across. you know? >> reporter: right. okay, right. >> but she brought that outta me. that's why i say, with cari it was potential that long term it might have been different. >> reporter: so when you went off to work that day, you were in a pretty good mood. >> oh, hell yeah, i was in a great mood. i had this beautiful lady who was gonna be at my house when i got home. i don't know who wouldn't smile about that. >> reporter: dave was at his shop by 6:30. entirely unprepared. and then --
>> by 10:00 i receive a text from her that says, "do you wanna move in with me?" or, "should -- we need to move in together." or something along those lines. >> reporter: really? >> but i immediately, i text her back, "no. i'm not interested. we've known each other two weeks. it's not gonna happen." as soon as i text her back i get a text back that says, "fine. i don't ever wanna see you again. go away. i'm dating somebody else. i hate you." on and on and on and on and on. >> reporter: weird. >> very weird. very, "what is goin' on here?" but i was at work. it was very busy. i didn't have time for that nonsense. so in the back of my mind i'm thinkin', "phew. i dodged a bullet there." >> reporter: oh, but he didn't. no. now, it was just beginning. coming up -- who was this woman named cari? she was about to vanish in a
very mysterious way. >> where is she? >> i didn't know what to think at that point. >> when dateline continues. t tok at that point. >> when dateline continues ♪ since pioneering the suv in 1935, the chevy suburban has carried many things. nothing more important than family. introducing the most versatile and advanced chevy suburban and tahoe ever. stand up to moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and take. it. on... ...with rinvoq. rinvoq a once-daily pill... ...can dramatically improve symptoms... rinvoq helps tame pain, stiffness, swelling. and for some... rinvoq can even significantly reduce ra fatigue. that's rinvoq relief. with ra, your overactive immune system attacks your joints. rinvoq regulates it to help stop the attack.
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>> reporter: dave kroupa, the man who liked his sex life uncommitted, was confused. the woman who'd seemed to share his philosophy had turned on him, was behaving like a woman who expected something from him, like a woman scorned. suddenly she wanted to move in. and when he refused, she responded with a non-stop staccato of angry, often misspelled texts. cari. now that name sounded like his personal horror show. >> so this is the woman from hell now. >> all of a sudden. yeah. or in the course of a couple of hours. >> wow. >> reporter: maybe to dave in omaha, that's how it seemed. but an hour's drive away, there
was quite a different story. here, in this tiny, sweet farming town called macedonia, iowa. >> i think there's only around 250 people that live there now. it's very -- it's just home. >> reporter: home to cari. cari farver. and where she was raised by her step-father mark and her mother nancy, who would stick with cari through it all. but of course, they'd always known there was something different about cari. >> she felt like she wanted to do her own thing. and sometimes that -- >> that doesn't always go well? >> always go well, yeah. >> reporter: thing is, cari was smart. super smart. school was easy. but then, so were boys. >> guys were just drawn to her. >> and she liked it. >> yeah. she did. >> hello cari! >> reporter: but there was something else about cari, said her friend holly drummond. brainy, yes, but she sometimes made dubious choices.
like when she was away at college. and there was this guy, one of a parade of guys. >> she would constantly talk about this night where they were all dressed up. and it was midnight. and they were walking in the streets with a bottle of champagne. i mean, she made it sound like -- she made it sound like a romantic movie. >> reporter: it didn't last. even when cari found out she was pregnant. >> did it come as a surprise? >> yes. yeah. i was just -- i knew what she was gonna have to go through because i had been divorced with children, young children. and it's hard. >> it's not easy. >> reporter: she moved home, took computer courses. and she named the baby maxwell. everyone called him max. >> she was such a good mother. but i know she had so much on her plate, too, at that time when-- >> it's a lot to do. >> but she did very well. she held up very well. >> reporter: except, that is, for the mood swings.
the dreadful depressions. >> she just would go under the covers and sleep. and she's just, you know, she'd hibernate. she'd close herself off from everything. >> it's hard for a mother to watch your daughter. >> yeah. >> go through that. >> it is. trying to get it out of her. you know, "what can i do?" and there's really nothing that i can do or say. >> reporter: but, it got better. once cari was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, medication evened things out. and cari and max settled into an apparently happy and successful life. and then, that inexplicable turn. cari had just started that hi-tech job of hers in omaha. >> she really liked that job. >> what was she doing? >> she was computer programming. >> reporter: and then, november 2012, she took on that big project. max was a teenager then. he understood about her long hours, and how she'd decided to stay in the city for a few days. he didn't ask about the man she'd be staying with. >> i didn't know dave at the time. i just had heard of a dave. that was about it.
>> she didn't talk about him? >> no. usually, things like that she didn't really talk to me about. >> reporter: "dave," that's all her family knew. >> she was -- she was in a very good place. i mean, she had been for a long time, and i didn't think too much about it. >> reporter: and so that weekend, nancy picked up max and later cari drove off to omaha. to spend the week with dave. >> she didn't text me or anything that -- that monday. and then i started getting text messages, saying that she -- had quit her job. she was going to kansas to live. and -- >> what was it like to get that? >> it was totally off the wall. >> reporter: that was about the same time dave was getting those angry texts, though nancy had no idea about that. anyway, cari's news came as a big surprise to nancy. though to max, maybe not so much. >> 'cause she had something down in kansas that she was gonna be
going and interviewing for after those few days at work. >> reporter: his mom had mentioned a possible job change. she'd even discussed with him staying with grandma to finish high school. and then, early that weird week. >> i got a text saying, "hey, the -- i got a second interview." >> reporter: but she'd be back from kansas on the weekend, she texted for a family wedding. at which max was an usher. but, as the bride walked down the aisle, no sign of cari. >> i was just like, okay, she's just running late. she'll be at the reception. she'll be there for the party and everything. but at the party, i remember probably every five, ten minutes, i was glancing back at the door just hoping. >> where is she? >> yeah. just wondering where she was. i just kept saying, "oh, she'll be here any minute, be here any minute." midnight got around and she wasn't there. and i had -- i didn't know what to think at that point. >> reporter: coming up -- unsettling doubts about cari's story. was she moving or was she
missing? >> i could just feel it in my bones. something wasn't right here. >> i wasn't sure what was going on. >> it scared me tremendously. >> i thought "i've got to do something. >> when dateline continues. something. >> when dateline continues innovating, sourcing organic ingredients, testing them and fermenting. fermenting? yeah like kombucha or yogurt. and we formulate everything so your body can really truly absorb the natural goodness. that's what we do, so you can do you. new chapter wellness, well done.
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anybody possibly could. >> we were definitely really close. i was her second opinion on most things. >> reporter: so when cari was a no show at the wedding, max knew something was way off. >> i wasn't sure what was going on but that i just knew something was wrong. >> i could just feel it in my bones. there was something-- something wasn't right here. >> reporter: nancy didn't tell her grandson about the truly disturbing text she'd received from cari. this one didn't say anything about a new job. instead, cari texted she broke up with her boyfriend, and was thinking about checking into a mental hospital. >> reporter: that'd scare you? >> yes. it scared me tremendously. >> reporter: by 'boyfriend' did she mean this mysterious dave? olt011 did you know how to reach this guy? >> no.
i didn't. >> reporter: or even what his last name was? >> unh-uh. i didn't know how to start looking for her. >> reporter: so what is that like? >> it's hell. it's just-- frustration and just helplessness. >> reporter: so, before dropping off max at the wedding, she called the county sheriff's office to file a missing persons report. >> they took down all the information, of course. and they couldn't-- they didn't really offer too much. >> reporter: well, i guess they thought, "well, she's a grown woman, she can--" >> yeah. >> reporter: leave if she wants to leave? >> right. >> reporter: nancy told the deputies about cari's struggles with bipolar disorder. and here's what they told her, said nancy. >> "well, she's probably off her medicine. and, you know, these things happen. and so there's-- that happens a lot. >> reporter: nancy tried calling. but cari just wouldn't pick up. she did respond to texts, but sent mixed messages. >> "i'm moving down with this
dave." i had no idea who this dave was. >> reporter: it was confusing. did she have some sort of mental breakdown? cari quit her job in omaha, sent her company a text to let them know and texted her mom that she was taking that job in kansas and moving away and had sold her furniture. she attached a photo of a check from the buyer. cari wanted nancy to let the buyer pick it up out in macedonia, and take it away. >> and i said, "absolutely not." i said, "either you call me, you come see me. i'm not doing anything until i hear you. and that's when the nasty texts started coming. >> reporter: what did she say then? >> that i was a bad mother. she said, "i'm gonna take max. you're gonna-- we're gonna leave." >> reporter: cari texted max too and let him know. >> "you're coming with me. you have no choice. i'm the adult here and my -- what i say goes." >> reporter: just trying to imagine what it was like to be you in the middle of that situation. >> it was a bit scary because we all thought that someone might come at school to try to get me.
because the school would legally have to let them let me go with them. like, if my mom showed up. >> reporter: max was scared. had no idea what was going on with his mom. and he wanted to stay with his grandparents. >> i've heard all of these horror stories about people having these personality changes and-- going off the deep end. and i thought, "i've got to do something about max. i've got to -- keep him safe." >> reporter: nancy applied for temporary guardianship of max. that must be so weird? >> [ light laughter ] >> reporter: fraught. >> yes and just wondering, "what am i doing to my daughter if-- if we were doing this." the lawyer said, "now, this is just temporary." "now, if she comes back, you know, you can always undo this." i said "okay." >> reporter: meanwhile, surely the sheriff could find her daughter, get some help. she showed them cari's texts about the furniture. the phone company said they were coming from a location in omaha. officers went there, no cari.
sgt. jim doty and cpl. ryan avis of the pottawattamie county sheriff's office, who joined the investigation much later, said the next step was to find the woman who'd paid for the furniture. her name was shanna golyar. >> they called her. left a voicemail. which she returned that call the next day. shanna went by her middle name, liz. and it turned out that was the same 'liz' dave kroupa once dated. she lived in omaha with her two kids. liz told the cops that somebody stole her checkbook. and she suspected that somebody was the woman she ran into at dave's place. liz gave the detectives his contact information. >> reporter: she's with him and then, suddenly, she goes off the rails, and starts doing s-- weird stuff like this. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: he must know something, right? >> yeah. >> definitely a person you wanted to talk to. >> reporter: and by then, the story dave could tell the police? scary.
coming up. >> he was drilling me with them policeman eyes. >> reporter: police have some questions for dave. she was at your house. >> yes. >> you were the last one to see here. >> was as if i'd already done something and he already knew it. >> when dateline continues. alr it >> when dateline continues of victorian architecture really paid off this time. nah, just got lucky. so did the thompsons. that faulty wiring could've cost them a lot more than the mudroom. thankfully they bundled their motorcycle with their home and auto. they're protected 24/7. mm. what do you say? one more game of backgammon? [ chuckles ] not on your life. [ laughs ] ♪ when the lights go down
hello. here's what's happening now. retailers are hoping for a successful black friday. for many of the biggest sales day of the year many kept their doors closed this thanksgiving saying they wanted to protect and support their workers during the pandemic. on thanksgiving president trump once again refused to accept the results of the election falsely claiming, quote, massive fraud while president-elect biden talked about shared sacrifice to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. back to dateline. >> reporter: dave kroupa was upset, maybe as upset as he'd ever been.
ever since he'd told cari that she couldn't move in with him she'd been texting, and emailing, and saying awful things, and making his life miserable. he tried calling her, but she didn't answer, and then, a little more than a week later the cops showed up at his auto repair shop. >> reporter: how did you find out they were coming? they just showed up? >> oh yeah. there was no warning. >> reporter: the detectives took him outside for a talk. >> and he tells me, hey, do you know cari? my first thought is, oh, that crazy one. yeah, what? you know? when did you see her last? oh, the morning of -- and, okay, so where is she now? no idea. >> reporter: the detective didn't seem to buy that. >> he was drilling me with them policeman eyes. them ones that are like, ah. you know? you feel like you're in the principal's office. >> reporter: yeah. where were you at 6:30? >> right. >> reporter: on that morning. >> yeah. >> reporter: and -- >> yeah. no, i had totally had the feeling --
>> reporter: i mean, she was at your house. >> yes. >> reporter: you were the last one to see her. >> and that was how he approached me. was as if i had already done something, and he already knew it, and it's time to deal with it, you know, and i was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. slow down. >> reporter: dave tried to explain, he said. >> hey, man, i don't know where she's at, but i've got nothing to do with it. it's -- you know, i'm back pedaling as fast as i can. yeah, i don't know where she's at, and i don't want to know where she's at, at that point. i just want her to go away. >> reporter: because, dave told the detectives, cari would not stop messaging him. he showed them his phone, and was adamant he had not seen her since the morning he left her at his place. >> reporter: do you think they believed you when you said you didn't know where she was? >> oh, i -- 100% they believed me, and then the strangest thing, cari started texting the detective too. i would really appreciate if you leave dave kroupa out of it. the detective texted cari back. >> we can't stop looking into it. we need to locate you, and the missing person entry won't be taken out until someone talks to you in person, to where we know
you are okay. >> reporter: did she respond to that? >> she said it was pointless. >> reporter: she didn't want to be found. >> exactly. >> reporter: but the detective got another text, and this one seemed ominous. i want one person to go away for destroying everything for me. who might that person be? the detective had a pretty good idea. dave showed them texts in which cari blamed liz for their breakup, even though, as he explained, he and liz weren't even together when he met cari. it made sense then, cari must have stolen liz's checkbook alright, maybe even forged that check for 5-grand. the detectives called liz right away, and told her she should file a report with the omaha pd. it was their jurisdiction, but before she got the chance liz went to her garage and there.
scrawled on the wall, she found the words, whore from dave. had to have been cari. all of it was so strange thought the detectives. >> very out of the ordinary. >> reporter: like maybe she'd had a breakdown or something, like a psychotic episode, and -- >> that would be the only answer. >> reporter: to the police in omaha, cari was now a suspected stalker, but back home in pottawattamie county, iowa, she was still a missing person with a very worried family. cari's mother heard about the threatening texts, the harassment, the police reports filed against her daughter. to her it didn't seem like cari at all, and it made her wonder, how serious were the police about finding her daughter? >> i got a little callous towards the authorities, thinking that i didn't think they were doing quite as -- what they should've been doing, but -- >> reporter: did you get the feeling you just wanted to get in there, and storm the barricades, and make something happen? >> yeah, but again, i didn't know how much i could do, and i -- i didn't know where to start.
>> reporter: cari had been gone for almost two weeks, thanksgiving, a day away. nancy sent cari a message on facebook. i've got a roast in the crock pot, and we will eat about 6. we're going to dad's for thanksgiving, and eating about noon or one. we love you, cari. cari didn't respond, and didn't show up for thanksgiving dinner. less than a month later, nancy's ex-husband, cari's father, died of cancer. cari didn't come to the funeral. instead she sent a message on facebook. i am sorry i missed the funeral! and, just a few days before that, she posted on facebook, david kroupa proposed to me. i said yes. what in heaven's name was going on? nancy called the detectives, who called dave, who swore -- no way he was engaged to cari. he said he hadn't even seen her, but still heard from her
constantly, a hail of texts, and emails that was only getting thicker. >> i would get 50, 60 a day. >> reporter: a day. >> oh yeah. yeah. all day long. it at one point rendered my phone completely useless. it would just be dinging so much i couldn't answer a phone, or send a text. >> reporter: make you want to change your phone number, wouldn't it? >> did that a couple of times. >> reporter: you did, and they still -- >> and -- >> reporter: kept coming. >> they did. >> reporter: occasionally cari's texts seemed almost normal. i know i ruined it. i tell myself don't be crazy, this guy was nice to you, but something takes over, but mostly the emails and messages were angry rants about perceived romantic rivals, liz golyar in particular. she is a whore. you shouldn't be with someone like that. i hope we can see each other soon, and then with a shudder dave realized, cari did see him. she seemed to be watching his every move.
>> it was very common for me to get messages, e-mails or whatever that say, oh, i see you through your window. you're doing this, and i'd go, i am doing this. okay. great, and i'd haul ass outside, go looking for somebody cause somebody knows what i'm doing. >> reporter: even more disturbing, cari messaged dave that she'd taken his extra apartment key, and had been coming, and going when he wasn't there. liz got unsettling emails too. i am out in your garage so what should i do to your car? i see my handy work is still on the wall. attached to the email, a photo to prove cari was there. eventually the messages got threatening. cari wrote dave a note claiming she'd kidnapped liz. you will do exactly as i say and then i will let her go. do it, or say goodbye to her. attached was this photo, a woman bound. couldn't see her face, but was that liz? >> i had told her, b.s., that's crock of crap. i don't believe you. go away.
leave me alone. >> reporter: through it all cari remained invisible, even after she texted dave she was moving into an apartment building nearby. yes a couple buildings away, why does that bother you? i am only doing month to month till i find something else. dave told the cops, of course. they went looking for cari, and the building number was correct, but the apartment number did not exist. cari was still no where to be found, but near the complex dave did find something that belonged to cari. coming up: a crucial discovery almost buried in the snow, and the danger escalates. >> it was like what in the hell? >> reporter: into something deadly. >> it's like, you're on edge as to what's going to happen next! >> reporter: when dateline continues. dateline continues. rlines, hotels, food delivery,
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parking lot and i notice the truck there, because it still had all the snow on it. and when i got up close i'm like, "oh, it's an explorer. oh, it's the right color. hmm." so i called the sheriff and said, "i'm pretty sure i found her truck." >> reporter: he was right. it was cari's suv, still half buried in the snow. >> they impounded it. we had a crime scene tech process it. and it was really clean. >> they did a thorough investigation. >> yeah, they -- they dusted it for prints. and they found a fingerprint inside. and recovered that. >> reporter: the fingerprint was found on a mint container in the cup holder of the suv. they ran the print through the national database. no hits. but if cari wasn't using her suv, at least certainly not daily, her presence was as unavoidable as ever. what with the texts and emails, graffiti, threatening photos sent to both dave kroupa and liz golyar. county detectives made sure to do a 'phone dump' from both of
their devices to preserve the evidence and perhaps figure out where cari was. there was even a link to a fake obituary for liz. >> "go see what i made for the whore. i will kill her and i already made her obituary so it's done. >> then minutes later -- i'm trying to hire someone to get rid of that whore liz for us. you told me before you wanted her gone. do we want to pay just for the whore or her two kids too? i hope to see you soon your beautiful cari." >> trying to enlist you -- >> oh yeah. >> in her scheme. >> it totally -- >> to kill liz. >> yeah, it -- >> and her kids. >> totally, yeah. yeah, that was a very interesting read the first time i read that. was, like, "oh my, what in the hell?" >> reporter: cari didn't seem to realize that her ongoing harassment was actually pushing
dave and liz back together. >> you compared notes on the harassment. >> oh, we'd spend hours talking about it. showing each other texts and e-mails we got. and yeah, it was -- >> kinda comforting each other. you -- >> yeah. >> that's -- who else would understand, right? >> exactly. nobody else did understand. >> now they were -- >> he says yeah, it's her, she's done this to me before, identifies a photo of her, shows me some text messages she'd made a text referencing the fact she broke out his window. >> the attacks were escalating from angry texts to theft and vandalism and tlefhreats of physical harm.
he knew she was a computer expert probably using software to disguise the texts and messages where they came from. weeks passed and each time dave and liz were hit with an even more outrageous barrage, he would look again and again and not find cari. and yet, it all seemed to be leading somewhere bad. >> were dave and liz afraid? >> oh yes. it's not so much you're terrified of the individual, but it's, like, you're on edge as to what's gonna happen next. >> reporter: and sure enough what happened next was terrifying. early saturday morning, august 17th, liz called dave frantic. >> my house burned down. oh my god. it's that crazy person, cari, stalking me again. >> wow. >> reporter: liz had been in the middle of moving out...she and her kids were already sleeping at their new place. but she went back to the old place that saturday morning to pick up more of their things. and instead she had to call the
omaha fire department. they responded right away. and later, so did detective legrow. >> the inside of the house was pretty charred. and burnt. and -- >> serious fire -- >> smoke damage. >> big damage. >> sufficient. yes. really, it could have ended up burning down the house. but, just didn't quite get to that point. >> reporter: but it was deadly enough. liz had two dogs, one cat, and a pet snake. all were still in the house. all of them were found dead. neighbors across the street said they saw a woman in a car parked outside liz's house a few weeks before the fire. detective legrow showed them a photo of cari. the neighbors said they couldn't be sure but, she had the same "general appearance." but an email to dave made no secret of who did it. "i am not lying i set that nasty whore's house on fire i hope the whore and her kids die in it." and later, cari to liz. "hope you and your kids burn to death."
>> once you get into situations like arson or threats to an individual's life, or that those around them, their children, the ex-boyfriend, certainly you're gonna take that much more serious. >> reporter: suddenly the case against cari looked very serious indeed. but still, like smoke from the fire, she vanished. >> what i did was try and find some way of seeing if somebody saw her. and, again, came up with nothing. over and over again. nothing. >> reporter: by this time, said dave, he was afraid she'd try to attack his kids too. >> what did she say when she threatened your kids, for example? >> it was something along the lines of, "slit your childrens' throats." >> wow. >> yeah. it's pretty hard to read. >> reporter: it took a toll, said dave. >> for a while there i was drinking heavily. which is not me. it was never in -- been a time in my life where i was a real drinker. and i was drinking till i -- till the bar closed. and going to work at 6:00 in the morning. >> wow.
and you bought a gun. >> sure. yeah. yeah. >> why? >> for my safety and my children's safety. for, just, protection in general. 'cause i didn't know. >> reporter: so dave and liz kept watch in the city, wary, fearful. while out in macedonia, cari's family was coping with a whole diferent set of emotions. emptiness, grief, and a terrible, gnawing uncertainty. nancy had sent several pleading messages, "come home." >> "cari, you're my daughter and i'll always love you no matter what. we just need to see you, hear your voice, know where you are. i love you so much, you're my little girl. come home." >> for a parent, for a mother, i don't know how -- how do you characterize this episode in your life? how do you talk about those feelings?
>> you -- >> make sense of it? >> there was no making sense of it. total loss. >> reporter: what happened to cari farver? and why? coming up -- news like a lightning bolt for a family in anguish. >> someone claimed to have seen cari. >> my heart was just racing like crazy! >> reporter: could it be, after all this time? did you rehearse what you'd say. >> where have you been? >> when dateline continues. u ben >> when dateline continues neighbor 1: allez! (sound from wind chimes) neighbor 2: (laughing) at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. which helps us save even more. neighbor 2: hey, sarah, hey, peter! neighbor 1: touché. neighbor 2: ahhh! neighbor 1: pret!
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magic for max here in macedonia, a celebration of his amazing bond with his mother, of little things, like their family's gift opening traditions. >> at our house, instead of everyone just kind of going at once, we go by age and do rounds at christmas, and just going from me to grandma just seemed wrong. >> reporter: well, it was wrong, and you kind of had to bottle it up, didn't you? >> kinda. >> he didn't show his emotion too much to me cause he could -- he knew that i was -- >> reporter: you were worried? >> i was really worried. but i found out from his girlfriend's mother that he would go over to her house after school and stuff, to his girlfriend's house, and -- her mother told me that he did a lot of crying at their house, and that bothered me, of course.
>> reporter: there had been a sudden bit of hope, after that first christmas without cari in april 2013. the phone rang. >> on the line was a man, saying that cari was at this -- a homeless shelter in omaha, and that -- we were to go pick her up. >> reporter: but what was happening in here when you -- >> oh, i -- just flutters. i mean, i -- my heart was just racing like crazy. >> reporter: the shelter was about an hour away. nancy, who hadn't seen her daughter or heard her voice for months was too wrought up to drive so she asked her brother to take her. >> oh, i was so tense, and it was just, you know, trying to catch your breath and just -- >> reporter: did you rehearse what you'd say? >> oh, where have you been? yeah, and i -- you know, it's -- i don't care where you've been. you're home. >> reporter: an investigator met nancy at the shelter. he had a photo of cari with him.
>> the investigator went into the -- the shelter, and showed the picture, and wanted to know if there had been anybody there like her, and they said, she hasn't been here. >> reporter: what's that like? >> well, then -- you know, then your hopes are dashed again. it just -- think, where can she be? >> reporter: there's a feeling that comes with realizing you're on a wild goose chase? >> yes. i went home and i thought, i can't live with this anymore. this is just too much. >> reporter: again, nancy messaged cari. >> cari we were at sienna house, where are you? no response. but then a facebook post weeks later. i am a grown woman, and i if i feel like leaving home i have a right. i asked my son max to come with me, but you didn't want to. so when i am ready to come back home i will. i love you all very much, but i need time still to sort things out. then there were posts like this
one. >> liz is the hoe that took my boyfriend away from me. now i have meet a really nice guy. >> reporter: nancy had to wonder, maybe it was self delusion, but these messages just didn't sound like cari. >> because my daughter was so meticulous about grammar and spelling and the way it sounded. >> reporter: and this stuff was like what? >> oh, it was just garbage. it was just -- >> reporter: sort of chaotic? >> yes, it was chaotic, and it just -- the language that was used and everything else, cari wouldn't have used any kind of language --definitely -- >> reporter: unless-- >> to me. >> reporter: she'd become a different sort of person? >> right. yeah. so i -- you know, and -- and that, too. >> i'm thinking, is this the case? >> reporter: had her daughter had a total breakdown? what if cari's disappearance was not what it seemed to be? coming up -- max reaches out to his mother with a test. things only she would know. >> yeah, things only she would
know. >> and dave buys another gun that soon goes missing. could cari be behind it? >> she's still active and sending text messages and sending pictures. >> or maybe it wasn't cari at all. soon police would be investigating a whole new suspect. when dateline continues. when da. ♪ since pioneering the suv in 1935, the chevy suburban has carried many things. nothing more important than family. introducing the most versatile and advanced chevy suburban and tahoe ever. stand up to moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and take. it. on... ...with rinvoq. rinvoq a once-daily pill... ...can dramatically improve symptoms... rinvoq helps tame pain, stiffness, swelling.
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when you're through with powering through, it's time for theraflu hot liquid medicine. powerful relief so you can restore and recover. theraflu hot beats cold. . cari far ber's family was desperate for answers. no one had seen or spoke to her in months. yes, there were texts and facebook message, but somehow they just didn't sound like cari, at least not to her mother who was beginning to think her daughter had been the victim of some kind of crime. what if cari was kidnapped? what if someone stole her identity? she asked the police about that. what did they say? >> they said, we'll check it
out, that kind of thing. >> reporter: nothing came of it, but after cari's father died, nancy's ex-husband, she had this weird dream. >> he came to me very vividly in the dream and said -- he said, don't worry, nancy, she's with me. that sounds silly, but that's when i knew, but -- cause i knew she wouldn't just vanish. >> reporter: but, of course nancy didn't know for sure. >> and every time something would pop up online, or we'd get a text or something, there was this hope that maybe she's still out there. >> reporter: max was looking for answers his own way. about a month after nancy went to the shelter in omaha, max
sent his mom a message on facebook. hi. that was it. and then the next day, cari responded. hey little man. how are you? max messaged back, i have three questions. >> reporter: things only she would know. >> yeah. yeah. things only she would know. >> reporter: max asked, one, what is my middle name? two, what was our first boxer's name, the dog? three, who was my best friend as a little kid? >> reporter: and what was the response? >> nothing. i -- i never got a response to that one. >> reporter: which meant what? was that his not-in-her-right-mind mom, or could his grandma be right, that someone had kidnapped cari? no way of knowing really, and the messages kept coming, like this one for cari's mom. >> i'm not hurt mom! i miss everyone too. i just had a breakdown, and think i am getting over it. i should have came to my senses sooner and realized the guy wasn't worth it.
>> reporter: and then the following year for mother's day. >> happy mother day mom! how has max been? >> reporter: nancy frustrated - replied, call me and i'll gladly tell you about it. this is not talking. i need to hear your voice. cari never called. for nancy and max, the anguish of missing cari never stopped, and meanwhile, all dave kroupa wanted was to escape her. in february 2015 dave moved from omaha to council bluffs, iowa across the river. his kids lived there with amy flora, and he wanted to spend more time with them. and he hoped cari wouldn't find him there. he bought another gun just in case. and after about three years of relentless harassment, things finally seemed to be quieting down from liz and dave. there weren't as many messages from cari. she seemed to be fading away, and as that happened, liz and dave saw each other less and less too. there was just one rather scary
thing. that gun dave bought for protection, the one he'd kept hidden high in a closet disappeared. >> reporter: and you're the only guy in that apartment. >> right. i'm the only one living there. now my mind's racing. there's no forced entry. the doors are all shut and locked. the windows are shut. >> reporter: well, what did you think? >> i didn't know what the hell to think. >> reporter: meanwhile, in iowa where cari farbar lived before she became a mysterious and dangerous persona, ryan aifs got hooked on it. >> we heard some stuff, water cooler stuff. >> strange woman. >> it piqued our interest, so we requested to take a look at it. >> reporter: that was april 2015, more than two years after
cari's reign of terror began. the file was huge by this, the bizarre house of mirrors. so they decided to sort things out begins with a very simple question police had never really considered before, though her family certainly had. was cari farbar really the vengeful woman she seemed to be, or did she really exist? >> ryan worked it as if cari's still alive and he was going to work it until he came to a dead end. i was going to work it like she's not alive. there's things to lead us to maybe both conclusions. she's still active and sending text messages. >> she certainly seemed alive. >> she seemed alive. but she's missed so many significant events and hasn't physically been seen by anybody. >> started reviewing all the old material. >> mm-hm, reading all the
reports, looking through the phone downloads, listening to any interviews that had been recorded, just diving in. >> of course they spoke to dave. no doubt in his mind cari was alive and crazy. >> he was transparent. he gave us access to his whole email account. >> 11,000 emails he had saved over the years. could be more. >> wow. but that wasn't all they had. right there in the file was a wholesale dump of material from liz's cell phone. so, they were learning a lot about both dave and liz. they had been immersed in that for months but hadn't interviewed liz yet when in the office one day, pure coincidence. >> i was in the hallway talking with the county attorney and another investigator was walking down the hall with liz to his office. >> wow. >> to me, it was like a saw a famous person because i knew everything about her, and she was there to file a harassment report. >> but this was odd.
her complaint wasn't against cari. it was someone else. >> amy flora. that's the mother of dave's children. >> wait. amy? not cari? first detective avis did a kind of psychic double take. then he asked if he could be the one to interview liz. >> who's your ex-boyfriend? >> dave. >> and he has kids with amy flora. >> liz told detective avis that her on again off again relationship with dave was off again. but ever since their recent split, dave's ex, amy, had been stalking her on facebook. and she was very worried because -- >> his apartment was broken into and his gun was stolen. i told the police officer i was kind of worried since she has
the key to the apartment. >> and that's when liz realized she and david had played for fools. for three years, she'd believed cari was behind the messages, the deadly fire, but suddenliy t was like a light went off. it wasn't cari at all, that scary woman online responsible for all the trouble had to be amy flora, dave's ex, the mother of his children. diabolical. but think about it, said liz, amy was the one who so desperately wanted dave. she had the motive. but cari? not really. >> like i said, they only dated for two weeks and i don't understand why a person would still be stalking him almost three years later. >> cari and dave dated for two weeks? >> mm-hm. >> and she -- >> supposedly is the one stalking for three years.
>> wow. >> i would find it more reasonable to believe that his kids' mom. >> head spinning. detective avis made some notes, told liz he would do what he could to help her out. and no surprise the very next evening, december 5th, liz felt like she needed some time alone to think. she drove out to big lake park, took a walk along the trail there, sat down on the bench, quiet, alone in the gathering cold and dark. and that's when it happened, the deafening bark of a gun and the pain tearing through her thigh. >> i've been shot in the leg. >> coming up -- >> somebody in the park armed and dangerous? >> yes. >> a shooter on the loose. and the prime suspect? >> all i heard was, open up, police. they had two officers with guns drawn. >> pointing at you? >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues switzerland. (betsy) hmmhm... gonna be tough to top.
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. is the assailant nearby? >> i don't think so. he took off running. >> do you know if he's male or female? >> it was dark when the police roared out to the park and found a wounded and bleeding liz. while the chopper trained down a search light and ground based cops scoured the paths and bushes. >> reporter: so somebody in the park on foot and, what, armed and dangerous? >> yes. >> reporter: while other cops searched for the shooter, detective matthew kuhlmann checked on liz at the hospital. >> you could tell that she -- you know, she was in pain. >> reporter: i can't imagine. >> obvious wound to her leg. >> reporter: but liz was lucky. the bullet went clean through her leg, missed bones and arteries. it could have been much worse. she told the detective what happened. >> she said she -- came out here
to clear her mind. and she walked out to a bench, and sat down. and then a female who she believed to be amy flora came up behind her, stuck a gun to her back, told her to get on the ground, and then shot her in the leg, and then ran off. >> reporter: a few minutes later, a city police task force surrounded amy's apartment. >> and i kinda seen somebody leaning against my building, and i said, who's there? and all i heard was, open up, police. so i opened the door and they had two officers with guns drawn. >> reporter: pointing at you? >> yes, yeah. >> reporter: what did they say to you? >> they had said that i was accused of shooting liz. >> reporter: they searched her home, and later sat her down in an interview room and hooked her up to a polygraph machine. asked her questions like this one, among others. >> reporter: did you go to big lakes park that day? >> um, no. >> reporter: amy also denied that she shot liz. again and again. but she failed the polygraph. still, something didn't add up.
when that local detective arrived at amy's place right after the shooting, he felt the hood of her car. ice cold, hadn't been driven for a while. and the neighbor said amy was home all afternoon. so was amy so nervous she blew the polygraph? or was something else going on? detective avis went to see liz at the hospital, his recorder rolling. >> i feel like it's just written on the wall, what it is. it's amy shot you with dave's gun, isn't it? >> pretty much, that's what i'm thinking. dave still doesn't think so. >> you seemed like the friendly cop. >> or the dumb one, i'll be whatever she wanted, as long as she kept telling us information. >> wait what? avis was playing dumb, he said, to pump liz for information because he and his partner had a strong suspicion about who really shot her, a truly
shocking idea, something beyond devious. >> she shot herself is what i thought. >> liz shot herself? that sounded crazy. or maybe, a certain kind of crazy. remember to help catch cari farver, liz had given the police her cell phone. and here's what detectives doty and avis found on that phone. a photo of cari farver's suv, which didn't make any sense at all because -- >> we looked at the date that was taken. it was taken on christmas eve of 2012. >> reporter: wasn't that when her car was actually missing? >> yeah, it hadn't been recovered till january of 2013. >> uh-huh. >> so, we thought that's -- that's weird that the police couldn't find it. dave didn't know where it was, but somehow liz was able to take a picture of it. >> but that wasn't all. remember that threatening photo cari emailed to dave of a woman
bound and duct taped in the trunk? that photo was linked back to liz. which made them wonder, was it possible those wild and scary electronic messages all sent in cari's name were really sent by liz? tricky even for a computer whiz to nail that bit of jello to the wall. >> it's beyond our expertise and that's -- >> well, i was gonna say how well do you know computers and social media and all that non-sense? >> we know how to pick up a phone and call tony kava and tell him that he's got a lot of information to look at. >> tony kava, who's he? >> your cave! >> by day i do it work, and i've done that for about 15 years, and then by night i fight crime, so. >> you sound like a superhero. anthony's day job is i.t.
supervisor for pottawattamie county. but at night, for a dollar a year, he's a reserve sheriff deputy. >> reporter: i mean, how much stuff did you have to go through? >> it was um, it was terabytes worth of information. maybe about three dozen email accounts, a dozen facebook accounts and a number of different apps. >> reporter: and in his tiny office kava sat, hour after hour, late into the night, deciphering enormous amounts of digital data. >> it might take her five minutes to create a fake email account. it might take me you know 15 hours to prove that it's actually her. >> reporter: among those many accounts was a youtube account with this video. >> the title of the video is "husband's cheating place." >> reporter: and that video -- showed the apartment of dave kroupa. but the ip address where that video was uploaded was where liz lived. >> so again it was another arrow pointing at liz. >> reporter: painstakingly, arrow by arrow, anthony kava compiled the evidence. his conclusion? every one of those threatening emails, and texts, and facebook posts and youtube videos, linked right back to liz golyar. meanwhile, detectives doty and
avis busied themselves with good old fashioned earth-bound evidence. remember that one unidentified fingerprint found in a mint container in cari's otherwise spotless suv? >> we asked our crime scene tech, hey, can you compare that finger print to the known prints of liz, see what you can come up with. >> it was a match. >> this lady who should have had very little interaction with cari should -- had no reason to ever be in her vehicle. >> only met her in passing one time but now her fingerprint is in her car. >> reporter: liz in cari's suv. liz impersonating cari online. there was no logical explanation for it, unless -- >> we think liz may have been involved with making cari disappear. >> reporter: a case about to dive right through the looking glass. and on the other side? hard to believe. >> reporter: coming up -- >> why else would you disguise yourself as cari if you weren't
responsible for it? >> reporter: what had really happened to cari? police hatch a bold plan to finally get to the bottom of it all. >> i'm investigator doty, i work here for the sheriff's office. >> reporter: when dateline continues. ne continues. r bundle in the books. got to hand it to you, jamie. your knowledge of victorian architecture really paid off this time. nah, just got lucky. so did the thompsons. that faulty wiring could've cost them a lot more than the mudroom. thankfully they bundled their motorcycle with their home and auto. they're protected 24/7. mm. what do you say? one more game of backgammon? [ chuckles ] not on your life. [ laughs ] ♪ when the lights go down
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president trump took questions from reporters for the first time since the election and said he would leave the white house if the electoral college votes for joe biden. trump also told reporters he plans to visit georgia next saturday to hold a rally for republican senators kelly loeffler and david perdue ahead of their respective run off races in january. back to "dateline." >> reporter: by the time these two county detectives started looking into the strange case of cari farver, and all those jealousy-fueled texts, and
emails and threats and arson, cari's son max was getting ready for high school graduation. he hadn't seen his mom in three years. but, always the optimist, he decided to try one more time to reach her on facebook. >> i was at that point. it was just a last-ditch effort. just hoping something would happen. "if this is really you, please come back. i want you to be at my graduation..." >> reporter: when she didn't respond, how did that feel? >> it -- i wasn't really surprised. like i said, i knew it wasn't her. >> reporter: max and nancy had suspected for months that all those digital rants were not actually from cari. and they didn't know it yet, but detectives jim doty and ryan avis agreed with them. the detectives already had proof liz was impersonating cari online. but they also suspected something much darker. remember, another part of their investigation involved this basic question.
was cari farver alive or dead? >> her father died. >> reporter: yeah. >> and she didn't go to the funeral. missed her son's birthday. all these things. >> i mean, it didn't take ryan very long at all to come to a dead end where he -- he couldn't find anything to show that-- >> no. >> -- she was alive. suddenly cari farver looked not like a villain but like the real victim. and the woman who claimed she was the victim, liz golyar, looked luke the prime suspect in cari's disappearance. >> because why else would you disguise yourself as cari if you weren't responsible for it? why would you be in cari's vehicle if you weren't responsible for it? >> reporter: all of that is so counterintuitive and so bizarre that, you know, you wouldn't be expected to believe such a thing. >> no. >> reporter: it was stunning. really. liz apparently impersonating cari for years, sending
thousands of texts and emails in her name. but now they had a bigger question and a much bigger problem. >> i guess part of the worry was that if -- even if we could prove that it's liz sending all this stuff out as cari, well, that doesn't prove murder. >> reporter: murder? yes. sergeant doty and corporal avis believed that liz killed cari out of jealousy, impersonated cari in order to win dave back, then tried to frame his ex-partner amy for everything, even going so far as to set her own house on fire, kill the family pets and shoot herself in the leg. pretty wild stuff. but could they prove it? >> we did still need more. so, we still weren't quite sure how to get to that point. >> and then liz herself, by accusing amy of shooting her gave them their big idea. >> and that's when we introduced jim to liz. >> well, i'm investigator doty. i work here for the sheriff's office.
>> reporter: a little over a week after the shooting in the park, liz arrived at the sheriff's station wearing her work uniform. >> i told you i was looking into a missing person's case briefly on the phone. >> reporter: he told her there was a break in the case. >> there are some -- been some remains that have been located. >> ok. >> reporter: it was a ruse of course. >> we're waiting on the lab results to make a positive id, but the initial indications that these remains are cari. >> ok. >> reporter: meanwhile, said detective doty, he was hoping liz could help establish a time line, like when was the last time liz saw cari? well, that was easy, said liz, one brief encounter when liz went unannounced to dave's apartment back in 2012. >> i didn't know he was dating anybody else at the time. so, she came out, and i was going in. and she made a smart comment to me. >> what'd she say to you?
>> called me a -- >> ok. >> and it wasn't a big deal. i didn't really care at the time. i just wanted to get my stuff. and then i left and went home. >> ok. that's the only time you've ever seen her in person? >> yup. >> reporter: she told detective doty that it was dave who blamed cari for all those harassing messages over the years, but just as she had told detective avis, she now thought perhaps amy was really the one behind at all. >> she was with him for 12 years, and she still goes in and out of his life all the time so -- >> yeah. so you think she could've been the person that did some of that stuff to you? >> i'm just saying, as another person who would be possessive of dave, it would be her. so i mean i wouldn't put it past her. >> reporter: detective doty pretended to agree. >> i'm thinking if she was bold enough to go in and shoot you, okay, she could easily be bold enough to have done something to cari. >> reporter: of course, he said, he'd need to prove it. >> if we had messages from her
saying, hey, i did this or i did that, you know, i could easily start building that case. >> right. >> we want to build a case against amy. we want to get amy thrown in prison, which we were hoping was music to her ears. >> reporter: and apparently it was. liz agreed to help with the investigation, and she limped away. and she became a little deputy for you? >> yeah. >> so nelling what liz might come up with next. >> reporter: coming up. liz forwards emails and propels the investigation. >> when they first start coming in, they're pretty vague. >> so, you guys want me to try and email her back? >> i'm leaving that in your court, liz, i mean, if that's something you would feel okay doing, that would be really helpful for us. >> and detectives give dave a dire warning. >> since liz did come and tell you this, i would avoid her like the plague right now. >> okay.
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>> reporter: when cari farver never returned to little macedonia, iowa back in 2012, cops and neighbors alike seemed all too willing to believe she simply lost her mind, left her son with her mom and split. >> and the small community where's she from, they all kinda believed that, too, and nancy never could stand up and argue. >> reporter: nancy felt lonely indeed, until one day detective doty knocked on her door. >> i was a little bit standoffish because -- >> been down that road before. >> right, yeah. finally he said to me, well, i want you to know that i don't think she left on her own."
and i tell 'ya -- my attitude just changed. >> reporter: the very thing she'd suspected -- they saw what you had seen all along? >> right. so then they -- then the investigation really got going. >> reporter: an investigation as unusual, and convoluted, as the apparent crime. in which an eager liz golyar would try to help prove that her rival amy, killed cari. of course, all the while the detectives knew amy was innocent, but they let liz think they believed otherwise. >> if she made anything, real threatening statements or inferred that she ever did anything to cari, because that's like gold to me if we had something like that. >> okay. >> reporter: and what do you know, within days, liz began forwarding them emails from amy, she said, although the misspellings looked awfully familiar. i shot you, liz, to make sure dave stayed away from you. i made a couple of those fake
emails and numbers you and dave thought were cari to get rid of you, liz, but didn't work too well. >> when they first started coming in they were pretty vague. >> so you guys want me to try and email her back? >> and that's -- i'm leaving that in your court, liz. i mean, if that's something you would feel okay doing, uh, that'd be really helpful for us. >> reporter: liz said she'd try. >> cari's family -- some closure would be nice, probably. >> yeah, that -- that -- true. get, uh, her family some closure. >> reporter: so liz said she sent this email to amy. so, if you really shot me, then what kind of gun was it? so did you ever get to meet up with dave's ex, cari? >> reporter: and according to liz, amy responded. "the gun was daves that i used. don't worry you didn't get it as bad as crazy cari." then she wrote this. so, when i met crazy cari, she
would not stop talking about dave and him being her husband. she tried to attack me but i attack attacked her with a knife. i stabbed her three to four times in the chest and stomach area. i ten took her out and burned her. i stuffed her body in a garage bag with crap. sort of detail a killer would know. >> reporter: to see that it was working must have been enormously -- exciting? >> it felt good. >> reporter: a couple of days later, dave kroupa called detective avis to say he'd just had a disturbing conversation with liz. >> she told me that the sheriffs had found remains, like somebody's dead. and that, uh, and that they thought that it was this cari. and, uh, and that supposedly they had all this evidence against amy. you know, that she's complicit, or knows something, or whatever. i don't know. >> reporter: dave was understandably shaken up. avis couldn't tell him much, but he did drop a big hint. >> i'd be damn near moved in
with -- with amy if i were you. and -- >> okay. >> uh, since liz did come and tell you this, i would avoid her like the plague right now. >> okay. >> reporter: dave took his advice, moved in with amy so they could protect each other and their kids. but that outraged liz. she called the police to say so. >> looks like the only person that benefitted was her. so she gets to shoot somebody, and then she gets to kill another person. and then she gets to move in with dave, and she gets to be free. and you guys aren't arresting her. [ crying ] >> reporter: detective doty told her he still needed more evidence. so liz gave them access to her email account. and over the next month emails came pouring in, allegedly from amy, of course. "i got a hold of cari and we drive in her car. i reachrd over and stabbrd her in the stimach. "when i killed carrie you know she begged me to call dave at work.
then she begged to talk to her famoly before she died." "i remember when i killed carrie that she had a yig yag sign on left thigh." >> reporter: all that read like a detailed confession. but -- >> we had to find evidence that would match what she's telling us to confirm that what she's telling us is true. coming up, the chilling clue that might finally unlock this mystery. >> pulled up the passenger seat, pulled up the fabric of that, and there's a dark red stain right on that seat. >> that's huge. >> it was. >> reporter: when "dateline" continues. eporter: when "dateli" continues. neighbor 1: allez! (sound from wind chimes) neighbor 2: (laughing) at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. which helps us save even more.
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she handed them emails describing the murder. the sender, she says, was dave's ex-wife amy. investigators thought otherwise and needed to look at cari's car again. but the car had long since been sold to somebody else. but they found it, much used, in a whole other county. >> took out the passenger seat, pulled off the fabric of that, and there's a dark red stain right on that seat large stain. >> reporter: they tested it, human blood. and dna confirmed it was cari's blood. >> that's huge. >> it was. >> we high-fived. but we didn't really know what to do next for sure. >> but they were sure they had to move fast because it appeared liz was scouting a new target. >> we would see her circling amy's apartment multiple times a day. >> because doty's belief cari's
murder was in omaha, they asked for help and picked up liz in an unrelated misdemeanor warrant. but in the interview, their questions were about cari. liz stuck to her story that she was the victim in this tragic tale. >> what do you think happened to cari farver? >> i don't know. i don't even know -- i don't know if what amy's saying is true. i don't know. >> okay. >> i'm more -- i'm more scared that something's going to happen to me and my kids aren't going to have anybody. >> the omaha detective added some pressure. why, he asked, was her fingerprint in cari's car? >> i don't know. i've never been in her car. i don't even know what car she drives. >> she denied everything. >> the finger's pointing right at you. >> i'm done talking, and i'm going to have my attorney because i didn't do anything. >> by the end of the night, she
bonded out, and the county attorney wanted more time to review the evidence. >> what was it like waiting? was it frustrating? >> it was. >> months went by. max, who hadn't heard about any of that recent investigation graduated from high school without his mom. >> that was real kind of stake in the heart. but -- because. >> reporter: well, god knows if there was any occasion she was going to attend, it certainly would've been your graduation. >> yeah. >> reporter: summer came and went. another winter set in. and then december 22, 2016, four years after cari farver vanished, after reviewing all of the evidence, the county attorney finally felt there was enough. liz golyar was arrested for murder. >> the best part of it was being able to go to nancy and tell
her, we've arrested somebody for the murder of your daughter. >> that was a big day for her. >> that was what made workin' this whole case worth it. >> reporter: what did it feel like driving out there to see them? >> couldn't drive fast enough. >> reporter: it was big news for dave, too. >> that was the first time i could go outside and take a breath of fresh air and say, i don't have to look over my shoulder today. >> reporter: liz sat in jail while the prosecutors prepared for a trial they knew would not be easy. >> reporter: well, yeah, no body cases are tough, right? >> yeah, and circumstantial. it was very circumstantial. >> reporter: but then as the trial date was bearing down a teeny tiny memory card yielded an amazing discovery. >> reporter: which was just basically, just bs luck you ever -- got that, right, last minute? >> i don't think it's luck. i think it was divine intervention. >> reporter: coming up -- a signature tattoo, the ultimate computer clue! >> reporter: it turns up on a picture?
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>> we've had our fair share of homicides, and bizarre cases. but this certainly in all my experience tops the charts for most bizarre. >> reporter: not just bizarre, challenging. even for seasoned prosecutors brenda beadle and james masteller. >> your typical murder case, you know exactly when the murder happened. you know exactly where it happened. when you don't have a body you don't really have a good date, time or location. >> this is a bizarre and twisted case of a fatal attraction. >> reporter: nevertheless, on may 10, 2017 they put liz golyar on trial for the murder of cari farver. >> it's about an obsessive woman that would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. >> reporter: liz waived her
right to a jury trial. a judge would hear the evidence. the prosecutors laid it out methodically; cari's blood in the car, liz's fingerprint on the mint container in the car, the emails that read like confessions, the vast trove of digital forensics. they even tracked down a purchase on cari's bank card made after she vanished, a walmart receipt. >> one of the items was a shower curtain. >> reporter: yeah. >> and that shower curtain looked familiar to us, because in one of her -- that phone dump that we did in 2013 of liz's phone, there's a picture of that shower curtain. >> reporter: and they found the shower curtain itself at liz's apartment. there was also a photo of cari's driver's license with a large knife next to it that was emailed to dave. he thought it was a threat from cari. in fact, it was sent from an email account created by liz. >> all these pieces together made a big difference. >> reporter: all of it put
together, said the prosecutors, told the story of how liz golyar murdered cari farver. they told the judge it happened the morning of november 13, 2012 after dave kroupa left for work. cari was on her laptop. >> we know by examination of cari farver's known facebook that she logged into her facebook at 6:39 a.m. that morning. about two minutes later she logged off. she was supposed to leave for work but never made it. >> she was intercepted. something happened. that something was the defendant. >> reporter: hard to know exactly what liz did to cari, but -- >> it didn't take her too long because at 9:54 a.m., cari farver's cell phone is being used to access facebook. >> reporter: and at that moment it appeared, cari unfriended dave. >> the fact that they had the temerity to actually be facebook friends. this is one of the very first acts the defendant takes
to actually eliminate that facebook friendship. >> reporter: and from then on in cyperspace liz became cari. >> all for the purpose -- for the reason of convincing people, her friends, her family, relatives, everyone, that she was still alive. >> reporter: nancy went to court every day for the trial, heard the details for the very first time. >> when i heard all of those -- what this person was doing in her name, it just made me so angry cause it -- cari, she didn't deserve that at all. >> reporter: so, strong case? the prosecutors hoped so, though no body cases are tough to prove. but was it luck, divine intervention? before the trial began, detective avis and tech-guru tony kava went back to dave kroupa again, and asked if
he had anything that might help them. and that's when it hit him. he'd put a tablet into storage, had forgotten all about it. so he fished it out and kava examined it. >> tony removed the external sd card, the memory. >> reporter: ah, yeah? >> and had been deleted and reformatted. >> reporter: blank, or so it seemed, until kava took a closer look, pay dirt. >> there were, i want to say thousands of pictures that he was able to locate. >> reporter: thousands of photos that liz thought she had deleted. >> one of the pictures we found, it was a chinese symbol, that we were able to determine meant mother, and there were dark lines in the picture. >> reporter: dark lines? they looked more closely. those lines were veins on what looked like someone's foot, someone's deceased foot. avis called cari's mom nancy.
>> nancy was able to email a few pictures, and sure enough, cari has that same tattoo on her left foot. >> reporter: wow. >> identical. >> reporter: and remember the yin yang tattoo mentioned in one of those possibly confessional emails? lo and behold, it turns up on a picture? >> yeah. >> reporter: of a dead body? >> yeah. >> reporter: holy cow. >> that was cari's too. the tattoo parlor kept a record. >> my first thought when i saw those photographs was that this defendant had taken a trophy, or trophies of the person she had killed. >> reporter: the motive, a very old one, jealousy. >> it was really all about dave kroupa. she did it because she wanted this man. >> reporter: jealousy makes people do strange things, but that's just -- why so much? what -- why? >> i think it snowballed. i think once she did it she couldn't stop. she had to make cari look like she was still alive to keep the
heat off of her, and it just went on and on and on for years. >> dave kroupa heard it all and finally understood. >> i mean, it makes sense now, at the end. you know? but the tarantino movie always makes sense at the end. you know, it doesn't make any sense getting there. >> reporter: and liz's defense attorney james martin davis agreed. it was like a movie. a fictional one. >> i know they've got all this bizarre behavior, and they've got all this circumstantial evidence, but it doesn't show my client on that day in this jurisdiction took a knife, and stabbed cari farver to death. >> reporter: without that? no murder case. >> you may have camcorders and you may have smart cards and you may have phones, but you don't have a body and you don't have a cause of death from a medical examiner. what we have is their belief, their speculation, their notion that this is what happens, but
that's -- that can't convict. >> reporter: and then the judge retired to think about it and returned to an anxious courtroom. max, inside the courtroom, waited for the words. >> it -- it was nerve-racking. >> reporter: and then finally, an answer. >> the court finds, and it judges the defendant guilty. >> guilty of 1st degree murder for killing cari farver and second degree arson for setting fire to her own house and killing her pets. >> reporter: she was sentenced to life in prison. 1122just a few rows behind liz, cari's mother nancy finally heard the longed-for words from the judge. >> saying that cari did not vanish off the face of the earth, and she just didn't vanish into thin air. it was just total relief to me, and i just started crying.
>> you can't grieve really, until you know, and now they did. >> it'll never go away, but at least we can deal with it now, have to deal with it. >> reporter: so important, said nancy, to finally set the record straight about a loving mother, and a good woman, who never abandoned anyone. >> and i think it would've been important to cari, too, because she would have wanted people to say this was not me. >> reporter: max is in college now pursuing a career in software engineering. >> yeah. she was the one that really got me to understand computers. i'll never type as well as she could, but she -- she's definitely a big influence there. >> reporter: and inspired your love of them. >> mm-hm, she definitely did. but -- so i -- i have her to
thank for what i'm going down now. >> reporter: i think she'd be pretty proud of you. >> i hope so. it's like a sadness. you can't sleep. it just kind of consumes you. and even when you can move on, you just never forget someone who's really left such an impact on your life. >> she was a really good mom. she really loved her kids. >> she was just 20 steps from her front door. she never made it. >> you can't explain what happened in those 20 steps. >> it just didn't make sense to me. >> a working mom murdered. >> it was hard to imagine that anybody would be capable of something like that. >> police started with the men in her life. was one of them behind her death?